‘Adopt, Don’t Shop’: Shellebrating World Turtle Day 2019

‘Adopt, Don’t Shop’: Shellebrating World Turtle Day 2019

World Turtle Day serves as a celebration of the joy that these sea creatures bring to so many people across the globe on a daily basis / Shane Myers Photography via Shutterstock

 

Millions of people around the world have probably watched the viral video of a group of people removing a plastic straw from a sea turtle's nose in August 2015. Years after it was filmed, the video prompted a larger movement not only for the turtles but also for our environment. In fact, large companies like American Airlines and Starbucks have eliminated plastic straws from our day-to-day lives. 

The plastic straw was lodged in the turtle's nasal cavity and reached down his throat, inhibiting his breathing and sense of smell. This posed a great danger to its life since the affected body part was its most important tool for finding food. This scenario had struck many people across the world, showing how the global plastic pollution has gotten even worse over the years. Turtles are just one of the millions of species that are greatly affected by the impact of human activities. 

The lives of the world's turtles are in grave danger, even in the ocean - their home. Thus, it is important to raise awareness about these endangered species and, at the same time, encourage people to take action in preserving them. One of the global efforts for our turtles is the International Turtle's Day, which is celebrated on May 23 every year. This annual event aims to educate people about the things that we can do to protect and preserve turtles and tortoises. 

World Turtle Day serves as a celebration of the joy that these sea creatures bring to so many people across the globe on a daily basis. It also acknowledges how important turtles are in keeping our ecosystem balanced. 

History of World Turtle Day

The earliest known turtles lived on Earth approximately 215 million years ago, making them one of the oldest groups of reptiles - even older than snakes and crocodiles. As of now, scientists and researchers have discovered over 320 known species of turtles and many of them, unfortunately, are already endangered. This is due to the human activities that usually harm them. For instance, there's still a continuous illegal trade of live freshwater turtles and tortoises.

It will be helpful to reduce your impact of plastic pollution, especially on our oceans to help save the turtle species / Studio KIWI via Shutterstock

 

Aside from that, the demand for the meat, eggs, and shells of marine turtles is increasing globally. This can have a detrimental impact on the rich diversity of these creatures and the marine environment in general. The illegal taking from the wild and over-exploitation of marine turtles has led to its critical status. In line with this, the American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), a non-profit organization that aims to protect turtles and tortoises all around the world, founded the World Turtle Day. 

Established in 1990, ATR, which is led by founders Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, has given a home to over 4,000 turtles and tortoises. According to an article by the National Day Calendar, both of them are renowned advocates of the humane treatment of all animals and have taken care of these sea creatures who are on the brink of extinction. During World Turtle Day, people are encouraged to help the turtles in any way that they can. 

World Turtle Day is also a great opportunity to educate people about the threats that are faced by these sea creatures. It is also something that children enjoy getting involved in since these reptiles are remarkably adorable compared to others. 

Adopt, Don't Shop

Last May 23, the World Turtle Day celebrated its 19th year with the theme "Adopt, Don't Shop." Since there are a lot of turtles being taken from the wild and that need homes, the event encourages people to rescue them instead of buying one from a pet store or breeder. In an article by Pet Product News, Tellem said, “There are rescues throughout the globe that help place turtles and tortoises into forever homes, most at no cost." 

Tellem added that with the dangers of the lives of turtles, one way that people can help is to not purchase them from any pet store or any place that sells them. "Sadly, most of these animals are taken illegally out of the wild or are victims of international smuggling," she said. The founder also suggested reporting pet stores that sell tiny turtles less than four inches or if they are being used as prizes at an event. 

How to Celebrate World Turtle Day

There are a lot of ways to celebrate this global event, but the best way would be to do something for the turtles. After all, 70% of turtle species are facing extinction due to climate change and other human activities. People can choose to volunteer for organizations that promote turtle conservation and protection or donate money to those organizations. 

According to an article by Green Matters, it will also be helpful to reduce your impact of plastic pollution, especially on our oceans. For instance, you can start by reducing your overall consumption of single-use plastic every day. Instead, replace those with reusable or sustainably-packaged alternatives.

Additionally, ATR urges people to contact their legislators to ask for better turtle protection in their community. They suggest writing a letter asking your local leader "to keep sensitive habitat preserved or closed to off-road vehicles, and to prevent offshore drilling that can lead to more endangered sea turtle deaths."